High rents frustrate Thunder Bay tenants

A Thunder Bay renter says tenants in the city are frustrated by rising rates.

Higher vacancy rate doesn't mean rent prices are going down, CMHC reports

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says landlords, knowing Thunder Bay's vacancy rate has been low, may be increasing rents because fewer renters are available. (CBC)

A Thunder Bay renter says tenants in the city are frustrated by rising rates.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says the average rent for two-bedroom apartments rose almost five per cent over the past year, despite a higher vacancy rate in the city.

After living in the same place for three years, Jessica Franklin said she needed a new apartment, but was surprised to find how much rents had increased.

Jessica Franklin (Supplied)

“When we were looking for our first apartment it seemed like the average price for an apartment was between $700 and $900,” said Franklin.

“But now, [we can’t] find anything in the $700 range.”

She was “ecstatic” when she finally found a place for her family to live, after a solid month of searching.

Sticker shock

The CMHC’s Warren Philp said Thunder Bay’s rising rent prices are “not necessarily what you'd expect in an environment with increasing vacancy rates.”

“But people may recall that the allowable increase for rents was 2.5 per cent,” he said.

“And one must also keep in mind that, once a unit vacates, there's an opportunity to increase rent. So coming into 2013 you can imagine that landlords, knowing that the vacancy rate was very low, may have been looking to increase rents in a rather aggressive way.”

Sharon Irwin (Supplied)

For people like Sharon Irwin, who helps find housing for people moving to the city, rental prices can be appalling.

"We've assisted professionals moving to the city, coming from larger centres such as Toronto, who are shocked by the rental prices in Thunder Bay,” said Irwin, who runs Tenant's choice rental registry and TC Property Management.

“They think coming here it's going to be cheaper living, and it's not necessarily true."